Friday, August 30, 2013




Outside my window... The sun isn't up yet, and the trees are casting silhouettes of their shapes against the dove gray of the predawn sky.

I am thinking... too much... my thoughts have been working overtime all week.

I am thankful... for so much... a safe, secure home, my children.. all safe and doing well, my husband and family... so many blessings.

In the kitchen... kitchen, what's that? After eating out TOO MUCH for a week while we had company in and out and events to celebrate, I'm rediscovering my kitchen and enjoying making my own dinner for a change.

I am creating... I"m knitting up a few dishcloths (but that doesn't really count as "creating"), I'm drawing plans for the barn art for the shed, and working on a new mando tune: Delahunty's Hornpipe.

I am have a busy couple of days... I have to pick up S this evening, B (dd#2) is coming for dinner, M, R and S have Special Olympics bowling in the morning (early!) followed by a shift working a booth at the Smokin' Brew BBQ event in town. By tomorrow afternoon we'll be collapsing with heat and tiredness...

I am hoping... the visit with S goes well. She has so much anger over all that has happened to her, it's hard for everyone when it bubbles over the surface.

I am looking forward to... Sunday... the first day of September... my all time favorite month of the year!

Around the house... I haven't been working around the house much this summer, it's been all outside work... I'm eager to move back to inside work as the weather cools.

A peek into my day...

a deer and her fawn peeking at me through the bushes


Visit Peggy's blog for more about The Simple Woman's Daybook

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thrifting Thursday (shed construction #5)

Well, our summer shed construction project is finally starting to wind down towards completion...

It's been a busy couple of weeks... Joe added the plexiglass-type stuff on the gable ends of the shed (for light and to break up all that beadboard) and I've been trimming and painting (and painting and trimming and painting...)

Here's how it looked after I trimmed out the corners with 1x4's, matching the trim I'd put around the door a few weeks earlier. Just that made such a big difference... the corners had been pretty torn up and looked unfinished... the trim hid all the rough spots and made the corners looks nice and tidy.  (And yes, I do like tidy...;)


Then I painted the doors with some leftover "liquid vinyl" paint E gave me (leftovers from her house). I'm still going to finish the outside of the doors for a barn wood look, but thought the basic wood underneath should be sealed before putting the "barn wood" on. I painted the foundation boards around the bottom with the same paint, and caulked and primed everything else.

(It did look very ugly primer white...  but it didn't stay that color long!)


I should have kept on painting then, but instead I decided to
waste an afternoonupgrade from the board/cement block we'd been using the keep the doors shut in the wind to a real latch, and installed an extra stall latch I found out in the barn. It might be switched out for something a little nicer later on (Joe has an old cast iron latch he wants to use)  but this is working for now... (Pretend you don't see how crooked the latch is hung... it was a BEAR to hang... despite careful measuring and two trips to the barn to see just  how the ones on the stalls are hung, it still took me three tries to get it even close to right!)

Then Joe put up this plexiglass type stuff that neither of us can remember the name of... It's supposed to be stronger than plexiglass which Joe thought would be good considering all the wind we get out here. (He later added extra bracing through the center of each gable to protect the window in case of a heavy snow load...)

Doesn't it look nice??

(You can see the two tone paint as I had already started painting the finish coat on the shed when this picture was taken.)


Next, I painted the bottom of the shed the same color as the stucco on the house, and used our house trim color to paint the  gable ends and trim pieces.



The last step was adding a piece of 1x2" trim between the top and bottom of the shed (to hide the seam) and more caulking and more painting... until finally, as of yesterday, all the basic painting is done. (I'm still planning on adding a bit of barn art to the back (road) side... :)



Still left for me to do is adding wood to the doors, making some kind of a stone "foundation" to close off the area underneath the shed (to keep creatures, like skunks, from moving in when it gets cold) and painting a bit of barn art. Joe still needs to add some shelves inside, and build a ramp for the snow plow to get in and out.

It sounds like kind of a lot left to do, but considering where we started, I'm super happy... the end is in sight!!

Shed construction #1

Shed construction #2

Shed construction #3

Shed construction #4

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

magic fence update

Last summer I spent a couple of days drilling holes in the old wood privacy fence out front to turn it into a "magic fence".

I've been pleasantly surprised at how it's held up, so I thought I'd post an update on how it turned out and what it looks like after a year+ of wind, rain, snow, heat and bitter cold.

To backtrack a little, making the "magic" in my fence turned out to be a little more work than just drilling holes in the fence and pushing marbles into them. Marbles are not uniform in dimension I discovered, so some of them fit a little loose in the holes I drilled, and some of the holes had to be enlarged a bit for them to fit. This wasn't a big problem, but it did add a little time and complication to the project. The bigger issue was that some of the marbles didn't want to stay in the holes... most stayed put, but a dozen or so kept falling out into the grass. (Leaving me with a holey fence!) A big part of the problem was that my fence is old and some of the wood is dried out, brittle, and even cracked in places.

Since picking marbles up out of the grass and pushing them back into the fence got old very quickly,  I needed to find something that would hold up to the sun and weather and hold the marbles in place. I tried regular super glue at first (looking for a strong, clear, adhesive) to hold the marbles that liked to "travel" but it didn't work at all.

A quick trip to Home Depot (my second home) and I came home with this:

Which I ended up using, on the wrong side of the fence, to reinforce each marble. I think the "gel control" was the key... it was gloopy enough to stay in place while it dried.

It's over a year later and only two marbles have loosened and fallen out. I'll glue them back in and probably re-glue everything again  (from the back) before winter to make sure they make it through the cold/snow/wind.

All in all it was a very cool project... one I'd do again (if I had another old, beat up fence!). It was not quite as quick and easy as the directions I'd found made it sound... but seeing the tiny globes of color sparkling in the sun more than makes up for the time I spent putting it together.

(This photo was taken late in the day, when the sun was already beginning to set.. it's much brighter in mid-day!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

A little peaceful mando time after the kids go to bed...

Friday, August 23, 2013

back porch view

Summer sunrise breaking through the clouds...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

harvest time

It's been a good year for the garden... plenty of sun, a bit of rain now and then, and no hail.

Tomatoes are ripening...


There are plenty of carrots...


... and green beans...


... and the pumpkins seem intent on taking over the world! :)

I hope the first frost isn't too early (it was mid-September last year) so we can enjoy the harvest for awhile.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Plains Conservation Center... then and now

We live on the high plains of Colorado, it's a unique area with our relatively high elevation (about 6,300') and mix of plains and foothills weather and environment. We are fortunate to have the Plains Conservation Center a short drive away... It's a place dedicated to educating about and preserving the plains environment.

When you visit the PCC you can go " back in time to Colorado’s high plains and pioneer life in the mid-1800’s. The Plains Conservation Center is a true-to-life homestead stretching across 8,894 acres of dedicated open space. Historic ranch houses, a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and barn plus an heirloom garden and chicken coop and a Cheyenne camp with tipis bring the experience to life. The Learning Center and library are open to schools and groups." (Taken from their website, I got lazy...)

Anyway, we love the PCC and have visited there many times over the years, sometimes to take a class and sometimes just to visit the homestead.

S has been asking to go to the PCC for a long time now. We took her there a couple of times when she was little, but haven't taken her in years... so when she visited this past weekend a trip to PCC was on the agenda. We went early on Saturday morning, took a wagon ride out to the homestead and learned about the homestead and helped with their morning chores.

I took pictures and as I did I remembered the pictures I'd taken years ago when we'd taken S there.

Just for fun I thought I'd post a few then and now photos...

Here's R and S then (in March of 2005) and M photo-bombing the picture ... :)


And R and S now (and M managed to stay out of the picture!)


All three kids back in 2005...

Aren't they the cutest things ever??  S would have been 10, R was 8, and M was 12. (I love R's purse hanging from her arm... I wonder what was in it?)


And a bad picture of all three now, on the wagon heading to the homestead.  It looks like two surly children on either side of sunny S... :) I think R just wasn't ready for the picture, and M had been sick (gastroparesis flare up) the night before and was tired and cranky at being woken up to go to PCC.


I love this picture... S was so happy just riding in the wagon, the wind blowing around us... I love seeing her this happy.


We had a great time at the PCC... It was like visiting an old friend we hadn't seen for awhile. All the kids want to go back for their "Harvest at the Homestead Festival" next month... and it does sound like a lot of fun, we'll have to try and make it out for that...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

twenty-one years ago today...

... a baby boy was born. He weighed barely 5 lbs and had already had an uphill battle to life... with his prenatal months marked by his young mother's cocaine and alcohol binges. Life continued to be difficult and unpredictable after he was born, he wasn't fed regularly and what he was fed (milk mixed with strawberry Nestle's Quik) he wasn't able to digest. He was rarely bathed, and was cared for by whoever his mother had left him with at the time.

When he was 7 1/2 months old he was removed from his birthmother's care and came to us... We were foster parents, with three beautiful healthy daughters of our own and no desire to adopt, just to give back from our many blessings. At the time he came to us, the baby weighed only 11 lbs and was as floppy as a newborn. He was so dirty that despite a long warm bath and plenty of baby bath soap, he still had grime ground into his legs, arms, and even his tiny hands.

He cried a lot... for hours every night... and his poor little GI system struggled to digest anything... he vomited up every formula I tried until I finally found a pre-digested formula that he was able to keep down.

Assessments, therapies and interventions followed... occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy... and he grew and thrived.

(His 1st birthday)

His birthmom only saw him once after he was placed with us, then she left the state.... leaving all four of her small children (aged infant to 5 years) in various foster homes. She didn't relinquish her rights, instead she just left... knowing the kids would stay in foster care for the months to years it took for her parental rights to be  involuntarily terminated so they could be adopted.

(Our young family back in 1992, from left K (5), E (12), B (8), and M (10 months)

The diagnoses followed the assessments, therapies and interventions... each diagnosis a blow in itself, but all the more so piled one on top of each other over the years that followed. Each one a blow to us because we had fallen in love with this sweet, challenging, happy (but needy) little person. He became part of our family, legally, through adoption, when he was not quite 3 years old.

That sweet, challenging, happy baby we first fell in love with back in 1992 has grown up. Our M is still sweet, challenging and happy (and needy!)... but he's no longer a baby... he's 21 years old today.

I am so blessed to be his mother, he has taught me so much... about love, perseverance, faith, and about holding onto a sunny attitude despite whatever challenges life brings... about the goodness of people, and the strength of the human spirit. What a journey it's been...

Happy Birthday M, we love you!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

Outsmarting the mule deer who have been delighting in eating my pansies down the the soil...

... this should slow them down! :)


Friday, August 16, 2013

play kitchen re-do

About a year ago I was at a yard sale and saw a small wooden play kitchen for sale. It was a little rough... it looked like it had been stored in a barn, the "sink" was a plastic dog bowl, and the counter top was in dire need of replacing. It had good bones though... it was made of real wood with honest-to-goodness construction rather than particle board stapled together, so I decided to buy it to fix up for my youngest granddaughter. I drug it home, put it in the storeroom, and there it sat for month after month (after month after month!), until finally, a few weeks ago, I decided I either needed to fix it up and give it to my granddaughter, or get rid of it.

I still thought it had possibilities, so I hauled it up to my "workshop" (aka the dining room) and got to work.

I'm terrible at remembering to take before pictures, but I did this time... I remember... but it's been so long ago now that I can't find them.  (oops!) So, unfortunately, the only before pictures are these of the drawers and door fronts taken apart and waiting for sanding. Two thirds of the kitchen was stained dark, the other third (the "stove") was painted kind of a bluish white.


I started by giving everything a light sanding, then a coat of primer, and another of white paint.  Next I added trim pieces along each bottom edge to hide the places where the plywood had been splintered away by dragging it along the floor, and I decided to add another piece of the same wood (extra slats from some wide wooden blinds) along the top of the stove area to give it some definition.


New molding pieces on and painted! I found a nice piece of wood at Home Depot that was big enough for both the counter top and the stove top.  Here is the newly cut and sanded stove top sitting in place, and the new stove knobs (found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for .10 each) on top waiting to be put on.



I bought new knobs and hinges for the little kitchen (also at Home Depot) and made "burners" for the stove out of wood rounds topped by wooden swirls (from Michael's) and craft paint.


I love how the counter top turned out. Joe's brother routered out the hole for the "sink" (a metal bowl from Goodwill) and it was easy to drill a few holes for the faucet (another ReStore find).


I thought I was done with the counter top at this point, and ready to put the last two doors back on and call the project finished...


... but at the last minute I decided to add a back splash from some of the leftover wood. So I took the counter back off the cabinet and added a back splash.


A little glue, clamps and a few screws and the back splash was done.  I put the counter top back on again, touched up the paint, put the last of the doors back on...


... and delivered it to my youngest grandchild.


It was such a fun project... I hope she enjoys it for a long time.



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thrifting Thursday (shed construction #4)

The shed is coming along, Joe's been working hard on the roof and it's almost done (he just needs to trim off the extra tar paper).


We decided to put a red metal roof on the shed to match our red metal porch roof...


I really like how it turned out!



And I'm especially pleased that Joe didn't kill himself sliding off the slippery metal as he installed it! It was kind of scary up there a few times!

I trimmed out the corners the other day using 1x4's, and then caulked all the joints, wood puttied the various nail holes in the siding and sanded the rough spots... With any luck I'll get it primed later today.


We still have a long ways to go, but it's getting there... and we should have a month or so before I have to worry about snow.

Paint and the "barn" doors are next... that will be the fun part... followed by installing the plexiglass below the peak in the front and back. It's so fun to watch our old recycled shed coming back together again!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

you know you're living in the country when...

You are visiting a friend's farm and her large animal vet shows up to geld one of your friend's animals, and she's brought her two small children with her.

While the kids play... feeding grass to the chickens, running around the pasture, swinging on the hammock... the vet carefully gelds the animal and expertly stitches him up. Just as she finishes, rubber gloves still bloody from the gelding, her youngest child starts screaming and crying... he has fallen off the hammock and cut his head open.

The vet strips off the gloves, takes the child to her car and cleans and takes a good look at the 1" gash on his head. It's bleeding like crazy... She calmly pulls on a new pair of rubber gloves and another suturing kit and proceeds to stitch the child's head up while standing in the driveway next to the car.

After closing the cut and stripping off her gloves, she heads back to the barn to check on her recently gelding patient and to move on to the ultrasound the next animal needs.

The child keeps away from the hammock but otherwise seems fine... playing and laughing while his mother finishes her work.

It was a pretty exciting vet visit (and no it wasn't at my house, but it truly happened just this way... ), one my friend won't soon forget!

Compared to this vet visit, our vet's visits aren't exciting at all. I would say our most exciting farm visit was the first time Murphy had his teeth floated. In my inexperience I made the BIG mistake of letting our farrier do it... it was a wild time. Luckily we all lived through it.

Anybody else have any interesting vet experiences to share?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Oh yeah, this is more like it...

This is what my barn should be looking like in late summer...


Stacked full of sweet smelling, fresh, clean hay.



The hay guys showed up on time Friday, and were a lot younger than I expected (probably not much older than M!), and the only hitch in the delivery was that the guy driving was not able to get the big trailer backed into the barn, or even very close to the barn. This was not for lack of trying... he tried for almost an hour to get backed up to that barn. But he just wasn't quite as good maneuvering that big trailer around the pasture as some of the other guys who have delivered hay for us. Not backing it into the barn was kind of a relief for me though, since our barn is just barely big enough for a load of hay to fit... there ends up only being about a foot clearance on either side of the trailer. So you have to be very good at backing... and this guy wasn't... so it's just as well he wasn't able to take it all the way into the barn. Unfortunately, that meant they had to haul the hay from the trailer into the barn, and up into the hay loft... a lot more work for them. :(

This was as close to the barn as he was able to get...


The hay is wonderful, fresh, good color, clean...


...and the price was good. I'm counting my blessings for having a barn full of such good hay.

I ended up buying more than I originally planned on. I think I have at least 8 tons (I bought 200 bales at 80-90 lbs each, so have 16,000 to 18,000 lbs which is 8-9 tons) , and I only needed 7 tons... but having extra is ok... I can share with the neighbor if she runs out in the spring, or just buy a little less next year.

So... hay buying is FINALLY checked off the list of summer things to do, hallelujah!

The last of the big barn work that needs to be done this summer is calling someone to haul away the manure pile. Once it's gone, we're ready for Fall and colder weather...

Bring it on...